As a mom of two young boys, I was thrilled to see the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement to raise awareness about the harmful effects pesticides have on young children. The report states, “Pediatricians should ask parents about pesticide use around the home and yard, offer guidance about safe storage, and recommend parents choose lowest-harm approaches when considering pest control.” It also urges pediatricians to work with schools and government agencies to advocate for the least toxic methods of pest control—and to inform communities when pesticides are being used in the area.
Glyphosate (aka: Round Up) and Health Consequences
Each spring, I am disgusted when I walk into Home Depot and I'm greeted by prominent displays of economy-sized containers of Roundup, Monsanto’s ubiquitous glyphosphate. And that smell though!? Ugh! Exposure to glyphosate has been linked in studies to ADHD, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, miscarriages, an increase in autoimmune diseases, and hormone changes. Glyphosate destroys the healthy bacteria in the microbiome, which are responsible for maintaining a balanced immune response. A disrupted microbiome triggers inflammation and can eventually trigger autoimmune disorders and and inflammatory disorders.
Somehow, our society still has a blind spot about using pesticides, which is defined as any substance used to kill a pest. If it kills pests, it can’t be good for us—much less our developing young children. Are dandelions and flies such an impediment to our wellbeing that we are willing to risk poisoning our families, not to mention contaminating our water supply?
Here’s the Good News:
There are many effective, nontoxic fixes to pest problems—and most of them are a lot less expensive than their chemical counterparts! As parents (and pediatricians) better understand the serious downsides of pesticide use inside their home, in their yards, and in their local communities, I hope they will be motivated to learn about and use these alternatives.
Know Thy Enemies (common household products considered pesticides)
- Lawn and garden weed killers
- Rodent poisons
- Insect repellents
- Cockroach sprays and baits
- Flea and tick sprays, powders and pet collars
- Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers
- Products that kill mold and mildew
- Some swimming pool and hot tub chemicals
How to Reduce Garden Pests Without Exposing Your Family to Pesticides
Instead of going straight to the most toxic chemicals to immediately kill household pests, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recommends the following:
- First, analyze the source of the infestation.
- Eliminate all possible indoor and outdoor food sources and habitats.
- Keep indoors dry, clean and well ventilated.
- If this does not solve the problem, use chemicals only in minimal, recommended amounts that are mixed or diluted outdoors and applied in well-ventilated areas.
- Be sure to dispose of unneeded pesticides safely.
- In addition, feed your kiddo organic produce, especially fruits and vegetables that fall into the Dirty Dozen.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods